Latest plastic technologies: Ube Industries, Sumitomo Bakelite, Teijin, and more

Automotive World 2016 Report



 The eighth Automotive World expo, one of the largest automotive high technology exhibitions in Asia, was held in 2016 at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center for three days from January 13 to 16. Nepcon Japan was held at the same time, and also featured exhibits of automotive electronic components. 83,600 persons attended (slightly down year-over-year).

 This report will introduce notable plastics-related exhibits at these exhibitions.

Engineering plastics and moldings Ube Industries, Daicel-Evonik, Toyobo
CFRP (carbon fiber-reinforced plastics) Teijin
Thermosetting resins Sumitomo Bakelite
Thermally conductive sheets Denka
Molders Insert molding Tokai Electronics, Fuji Electronics Industries
Paint-less and weld line-less piano black moldings Yamashita Electric, Kyoshin Plastic
Two-color molding Entrust
Foam molding Sekisui Chemical
CFRTP hybrid molding Asano
Bonding technology Taiseiplas, Asahi Rubber
Other Minori Industry, Tsukada Riken Industry,
Teikoku Printing Inks

Plastic manufacturers: Ube Industries, Sumitomo Bakelite, Teijin, and etc.

Ube Industries Group: Lineup of polyamide products for automobiles

 The following table shows Ube Industries' lineup of polyamide (PA: e.g. nylon) products for automobiles, their areas of application, the reason they are adopted, and summarizes some examples of use. The company has many different grades of polyamide products in this field. It also has a lineup of plating-grade products (these have beautiful surface in spite of being glass fiber (GF)-reinforced products) and is broadening its polyamide product range for automotive applications.


Table 1: Application areas and usage examples for Ube Industries' automotive polyamide (PA: e.g. nylon)

Grades Application areas Examples of use
Weight/Cost reduction EV and FCV relevance Autonomous driving relevance Environmental compatibility relevance
Highly thermal-conductive PA Weight reduction Applicable (heat management) - - Heat management components
PA for blow molding Weight and production cost reduction Extended driving range - - Fuel tank liners
PA with high sliding performance Lowered component count and cost reduction Quiet performance/ reduced friction loss Long‐term durability Quiet performance/ comfort EPS gear, washers, etc.
PE (polyethylene) adhesive PA Assembly cost reduction Assembly cost reduction - Low fuel permeability/ environmental protection Various fuel parts
Antistatic PA Weight and production cost reduction Weight and production cost reduction - Low fuel permeability/ environmental protection Various fuel parts
PA with high rigidity Weight reduction Extended driving range - - Crossbeams/ engine mounts
Type IV PA for tank liners Weight and production cost reduction Improved mass‐producibility/ extended driving range - - Hydrogen tank liners

(Source: Created based on UBE Industries' exhibition panel)


Mos-Hige functional filler

Polypropylene reinforced with functional filler
PP reinforced with functional filler (Ube Industries)

 Ube Material Industries, Ltd. developed "Mos-Hige," a new inorganic fiber made from basic magnesium sulfate. The company displayed a door trim molded from a Mos-Hige-reinforced polypropylene (PP) grade. PP mixed with Mos-Hige offers improved mechanical properties (especially stiffness), an enhanced appearance for moldings, dimensional stability, and weight reduction.

 Other exhibits from the Ube Industries Group included a new foam molding technology presented by Ube Machinery Corporation Ltd.


Daicel-Evonik Ltd.: Composite parts-use adhesive

Hybrid metal-plastic molding
Hybrid metal-plastic molding (Daicel-Evonik)

 Daicel-Evonik displayed a hybrid metal-plastic molding that uses Vestamelt cross‐linking copolymer nylon, an adhesive for composite parts.

 Its particular characteristics are:

1) Increased strength: Composite parts are significantly strengthened through the use of the adhesive agent.

2) Weight saving: The amount of material used was decreased by at least 25%.

3) Reduced warpage: Warpage, which is often an issue for conventional composite moldings, is reduced.

4) Maintenance of adhesive strength: This compensates for a shortcoming incidental to composite parts where adhesive strength is reduced because of differing shrinkage factors.

 Composite molding is formed by applying a special cross‐linking PA to degreased metal, heating it between 150 and 200 degrees Celsius for about 3 minutes, and overmolding another resin on the metal. (Reference data: M. Mutsuda and others, Plastics Age, p.48, Mar. 2014)


Toyobo Co., Ltd.: A heat‐resistant air duct and other parts

Heat‐resistant air duct Inner door handle
Heat‐resistant air duct (Toyobo) Inner door handle (Toyobo)

 Toyobo displayed a heat‐resistant air duct made from a thermoplastic polyester elastomer (TPC) (see the photo to the upper-left). The bellows are made from TPC and the connected part from from polybutylene terephthalate (PBT). It is created with exchange blow molding, and it likely to be used near vehicle turbochargers to take advantage of its resistance to heat.

 Toyobo also displayed an inner door handle (see the photo to the upper-right). Design characteristics are added to the handle, which is molded from a reinforced grade PA-GF (glass fiber) with strength and rigidity, by adding plating.

 Toyobo's other exhibits included transparent TPC and high-performance PP stampable sheets, both of which are expected to have design characteristics.


Sumitomo Bakelite Co., Ltd.: A plastic engine block and green phenolic resin

Plastic engine block for motorcycles

Plastic engine block for motorcycles
Plastic engine block for motorcycles (Sumitomo Bakelite)

 Sumitomo Bakelite displayed an engine block made from a thermosetting compound for water‐cooled engines used in 2-wheelers. Use of plastic in engine blocks offers the following advantages, and the company says it is currently conducting field tests of the durability.

1) No damage after tolerance tests. 2) A rise in coolant temperature. 3) Lower heat dissipation from the cylinder housing surface. 4) Cylinder housing noise reduction of about 5 dB. 5) Weight saving of up to 28%. 6) Mass production costs are estimated to be no more than those for current products.


Green phenolic resin

Green phenolic resin
Green phenolic resin (Sumitomo Bakelite)

 Sumitomo Bakelite also displayed a green phenolic resin made from plant-derived recyclable raw materials. Together with the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE), the company is investigating the development of fundamental technology for the production of green phenol and green phenolic resins through bioprocesses that use mixed sugars (C5 and C6 sugars) derived from non-food cellulosic biomass resources. The photo shows the flow of converting raw material into green phenolic resin.

 In addition, the company had displays about its automotive-use material technologies, including phenolic resin-related technological developments and thermosetting plastic sealing compounds for electric components.


Teijin Limited: PvP, a new CFRP production technology

PvP, new CFRP production technology
PvP, a new CFRP production technology (Teijin)

 Teijin displayed molded articles made with Part via Preform (PvP), a new technology for producing carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). PvP is an automated preform manufacturing process that minimizes waste materials by utilizing yarn consisting of carbon fiber that has had thermoset resin bonded to it beforehand (binder yarn). Since it can be combined with the high-cycle resin transfer molding (RTM) method and other fast forming technologies currently in development, PvP will enable manufacturing at a lower cost than conventional methods.


CFRP hollow component
A CFRP hollow component formed by inner pressure molding (Teijin)

 Teijin also displayed a CFRP steering wheel. It is an inner pressure molded article (hollow). Its particular characteristics are:

1) One-piece hollow structure with reduced weight: The hollow, seamless cross section has a thickness of 1.0 mm.

2) High joint reliability: It is possible to mold the article as one piece with can be integrated with an aluminum or magnesium alloy.

3) High rigidity: The molded article gains rigidity through an optimal design.

4) Adaptability to various design requirements

5) High reliability

 Uses of these components include automotive interior and exterior components.

 Teijin's other exhibits included long fiber-reinforced polycarbonate plastics, aramid fiber-polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) composite sheets, and chlorine- or sodium-free polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) plastics, which will be produced with a new process by the company's joint venture with South Korea-based SK Chemicals Co., Ltd.  


Denka Co., Ltd.: Thermally conductive sheets

Thermally conductive silicon-made sheets
Thermally conductive silicon-made sheets (Denka)

 Denka displayed thermally conductive sheets. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) need thermal dissipation management because they consume large amounts of electric energy. The company has a large assortment of products incorporating its highly thermal conductive filler and organic fine technologies.The photo to the right shows silicon-made sheets, but the company also displayed other products like thermally conductive sheets that utilize highly thermal conductive metal or ceramic substrates.


Molding manufacturers: Taiseiplas, Kyoshin Plastic, and more

Taiseiplas Co., Ltd.

Brake pedal arm made by NMT process
Brake pedal arm made by NMT process (Taiseiplas)

 Taiseiplas displayed a brake pedal arm made with the Nano Molding Technology (NMT) crafting technique. NMT is a sophisticated metal and plastic joining technology developed by the company. NMT was utilized to develop the brake pedal arm (jointly developed with F-Tech). While conventional pedal arms have a steel plate structure, this pedal arm has a hollow structure, was made with aluminum and PPS resin, and is 52% lighter.

 Other notable characteristics are:

1) The unification of metal (aluminum) parts with injection molding.

2) A reduced number of components and man hours by joining the resin parts at the same time they are formed.

3) Allows a more sophisticated design than welded products.


Kyoshin Plastic Co., Ltd.

Weld line-less molding
Weld line-less compression molding (Kyoshin Plastic)

 Kyoshin Plastic displayed compression molded articles without weld lines as seen in the photo to the right. Weld line-less molding is achieved by using an existing molding machine (electric injection molding machine) and an impress die rather than the heat and cool method. This process is characterized by evenly pouring resin from the center of the die. For example, when making a donut shaped component with this molding process the shape is ensured by pouring resin from the center of the die and simultaneously compressing (impressing) it. Since the donut core is separated from the donut‐shaped component and removed, no gate treatment is needed.


Yamashita Electric Co., Ltd.

Paint-less and weld line-less piano black moldings
Paint-less and weld line-less piano black moldings (Yamashita Electric)

 Yamashita Electric displayed piano black molded articles that had no paint or weld line-less (indicated in the photo to the right). These components have drawn attention for use as interior parts, and are molded without paint or weld-lines using the company's The company's metal die structure is supposedly suitable to widen the product range of even polycarbonate plastics, for which it easily provides high-temperature control and 3D shaping.


Entrust Corporation

Automotive components made
Automotive components made with two-color molding (Entrust)

 Entrust displayed automotive components made with two-color molding. Some examples of the features and advantages of two-color molding are:

1) Cost reduction: Integral molding requires no assembly

2) Wind noise suppression: Integral molding and outer surface elastomer processing prevent imperfect contact between bonded parts

3) Texture: Cushioning and pliability. Solidity options are available.

4) Color: Multicolor finish is available.


Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd.

Polypropylene door trim
PP door trim (Sekisui Chemical)

 Sekisui Chemical displayed a PP door trim. This product was produced with high-expansion foaming technology. The advantages of this technology are:

1) Weight reduction through expansion foaming: The plates are 50%, and interior trims 25%-35% lighter.

2) The appearance is the same with conventional products.

3) Impact strength and stiffness are ensured.

4) The raw material compounding technology is unique.


Asano Co., Ltd.

CFRTP molding
CFRTP molding (Asano)

 Asano displayed molded articles made from carbon-fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP), as seen in the photo to the right. These are CFRTP hybrid moldings, which have recently been a target of attention from the automotive industry. Of the various CFRTP hybrid articles the company produces, a portion were displayed at the expo.


Minori Industry Co., Ltd.

Dash panel pad for next-generation vehicles
Dash panel pad for next-generation vehicles (Minori Industry)

 Minori Industry displayed a next-generation vehicles-use dash panel pad that uses materials that are lightweight and have improved with improved soundproofing performance. It is 26% lighter than existing products. While existing products have a two-layer polyolefin and felt layer structure, Minori's dash panel pad achieves weight reduction by mixing polyolefin and other substances into the high-performance unwoven fabric and felt layers.


Tokai Electronics Co., Ltd.

Shielding case
Shielding case (Tokai Electronics)

 Tokai Electronics displayed a shielding case. The company is promoting the use of PPS mixed with aluminum in housings for automotive electronic control units (ECUs) and inverters. The shielding case has the following advantages:

1) Shields electromagnetic waves emitted from ECUs, etc.

2) Blocks electromagnetic noise coming from the interior.

3) Since it is a molded article, design flexibility is possible.

 The company also displayed power modules and other products that are made from PPS-GF reinforced resins mixed with metals.


Fuji Electronics Industries Co., Ltd.

ECU case
ECU case (Fuji Electronics Industries)

 Fuji Electronics Industries displayed an engine control unit (ECU) case as shown in the photo to the right. The ECU case is made from a PPS-GF reinforced resin that offers superior mechanical strength properties including heat resistance, electrical properties, and rigidity.


Asahi Rubber Inc.

Molecule adhesion/bonding technology
Molecule adhesion/bonding technology (Asahi Rubber)

 Asahi Rubber displayed components that incorporate its molecular adhesion/bonding technology. The molecular adhesion process consists of treating the surfaces of materials and bonding them with a chemical reaction. This process requires no adhesives. The bond offers better heat and water resistance than bonds that use adhesives, and its strength does not deteriorate with age. The components shown in the photo on the right are samples of bonding between ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber and polyimide (PI), and between EPDM rubber and silicone rubber, but the company presented many other examples.


Tsukada Riken Industry Co., Ltd.

Lustrous metal components
Lustrous metal components made with ion plating processing
(Tsukada Riken Industry)

 Tsukada Riken Industry displayed lustrous metal components made with ion plating processing. Ion plating is one kind of surface treatment where ionized metal is evaporated onto a workpiece. It offers dramatic improvements in adhesiveness, surface durability, and process safety over conventional plating. The color tone varies with the thickness of the evaporated film.


Teikoku Printing Inks Mfg. Co., Ltd.

Integral polypropylene moldings
Integral PP moldings by FIM technology (Teikoku Printing Inks)

 Teikoku Printing Inks displayed integral PP moldings. The articles are created with film insert molding that uses PP in both the decorative film and resin. The advantages are:

1) Weight reduction has been realized.

2) Recycling is easy because everything contains polypropylene.

3) The product is made from a film insert molding process that uses a screen printed decorative PP sheet and PP molding. The binder used in this process tightly joins the PP decorative sheet and PP.


Exhibits by other parts suppliers: Shizuki Electric, Hosiden, Murata Manufacturing

 This section introduces automotive parts that use plastics exhibited by Shizuki Electric, Fuji Electric, Kimura Corporation, Nippon Keiki Works, Hosiden, CMK Corporation (Nippon Mektron), Mitsumi Electric, and Murata Manufacturing.


Shizuki Electric Co., Inc.

In-vehicle capacitor
Automotive capacitor (Shizuki Electric)

 Shizuki Electric displayed an automotive capacitor that is used in the inverters and DC-DC converters of HVs and EVs. The housing is primarily made from PPS, which has features like excellent electrical characteristics and heat resistance. There are also PBT housings automotive capacitors used in other components.


Hosiden Corporation

Single axis curved capacitive touch switch
Single axis curved capacitive type touch switch (Hosiden)

 Hosiden displayed a curved capacitive type touch switch module. This module has a touch panel fitted with highly sensitive film sensors. The housing is made from acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resins, and the cover panel is made from polycarbonate and has a 3D curved surface. Advantages include:

1) Support for R350mm cylindrical surfaces through the use of flexible film sensors.

2) A panel with thickness of 3.0mm.

3) Concave switches for improved operability.

(4) A haptic feedback function with vibration actuators allows the driver to keep their eyes on the road more while operating the device.

 Applications: automotive center console displays, car navigation systems, etc.


Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

DC-DC converter
DC-DC converter for e-mobility (Murata Manufacturing)

 Murata Manufacturing displayed a DC-DC converter for e-mobility use. This power module delivers 12V output at 200W from a 48V or 60V input source, which is ideal for e-mobility auxiliary propulsion. Advantages include:

1) A non-isolated converter with 95% efficiency.

2) Compact and lightweight

3) A case structure with excellent vibration shock resistance.

4) Built-in short-circuit protection with automatic recovery.


Fuji Electric Co., Ltd.

IGBT module
IGBT module (Fuji Electric)

 Fuji Electric displayed an IGBT module. IGBT (insulated‐gate bipolar transistor) are power semiconductors used in the variable speed drives of motors. Since it is high-heat generating, the module uses a jacket integrated aluminum cooling device. It is also compact and lightweight, and has high power density.


Kimura Corporation

Motor controller
Motor controller (Kimura Corporation)

 Kimura Corporation, an import company, displayed an AC/DC motor controller manufactured by the Italian company Zapi S.p.A. The housing is assumed to be made from PBT, which exhibits excellent electrical characteristics and dimensional stability. Electrified vehicles require optimal coordination with motors for improved safety and operating efficiency.


Nippon Keiki Works, Ltd.

Waterproof fan
Waterproof fan (Nippon Keiki Works)

 Nippon Keiki Works displayed a waterproof fan. The water-resistant fan motor has had water proofing treatment done for the electric circuit and rustproofing treatment for the mechanical parts. The fan is made from PBT and offers options for dripproofing and waterproofing levels to match the operating environment.


Mitsumi Electric Co., Ltd.

Automotive connectors
Automotive connectors (Mitsumi Electric)

 Mitsumi Electric displayed various automotive connectors. These are increasingly being installed in vehicles as s car electronics technology continues to advance. PBT is mostly used as an insulating material for automotive connectors, but PA6T and PA9T are also used.


Nippon Mektron, Ltd.

Automotive printed circuit boards
Automotive printed circuit boards (Nippon Mektron)

 Printed circuit boards are essential for the installation of automotive electronics parts. Nippon Mektron's display introduced their usage conditions.

 Other notable exhibits included a CFRP surge tank presented by Toda Racing Co., Ltd., sensors network software displayed by LORD Japan, Inc., a super heat-resistant polyurethane resin made by Nihon Gosei Kako Co., Ltd., and functional in-vehicle parts from Hokko Co., Ltd. However, these will not be introduced in this report.


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